Monday, March 19, 2007

Male on Monday - Alan Rickman

This Monday our Natasha Oakley has decided to inaugurate British actor Alan Rickman into the Pink Heart Society hall of fame.

Okay, it's all about the voice.

Well, almost all about the voice. There's something incredibly hypnotic about Alan Rickman which I just can't quite explain. When he walks on stage or appears on screen it's as though he's flicked a switch that's labelled 'sexual magnetism'.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born in London, on 21st February 1946. The second of four children, his father died when he was eight.

Apparently he had speech problems as a child caused by a tight lower jaw and it's this tightness that gives him his distinctive drawl. Whatever the cause, it's very effective. He only has to speak and I melt. If you need more convincing, take a moment and listen here.

A graduate of RADA (which he went to at the relatively late age of 26), he burst into my consciousness with his portrayal of Obediah Slope in the 1982 BBC production, 'The Barchester Chronicles'. (Now available on DVD, btw.)

Obediah is not a romantic hero. He's sly, manipulative, obsequious and ruthlessly ambitious. But, as I've said, there's something about Alan Rickman ... and fan mail poured into the BBC.

I came across him again in 1985 when he returned to the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) for a second season. That year I saw him as Jacques in 'As You Like It', Achilles in 'Troilus And Cressida' and Hofgen in 'Mephisto'. That same season he also created the role of Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton's new play 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses'. I think I saw that play three times.

Not surprisingly, because it was brilliant, the production transferred to Broadway and Alan Rickman was nominated for a Tony. Unfortunately when it was made into a movie the entire British cast were replaced. Alan Rickman by John Malkovich who, although well reviewed, honestly didn't match him. You can catch a glimpse of what I saw by clicking here. (Keep going - the interview with Christoper Hampton is interspersed with a recording of the stage show.)

That stint on Broadway did lead to him being cast as German terrorist Hans Gruber in the movie 'Die Hard'. Rickman's quoted as saying he only got the part because the producers had spent so much on Bruce Willis they had to find someone who'd work for next to nothing.

Then came 'The January Man' and 'Quigley Down Under' followed in 1991 by one of my personal favourites, 'Truly Madly Deeply'. (If that's a movie you've missed you have to rent it.) Alan plays Jaime the dead cello-playing lover of Juliet Stephenson. Sounds crazy, I know, but it's brilliant. Here's a preview.

Next came a BAFTA winning role as the Sheriff of Nottingham in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'. Anyone else remember the bit where he says he's going to cut out someone's heart with a spoon 'because it hurts'?

Then on to movies like 'Mesmer' (Frank Mesmer), 'Sense and Sensibility' (Colonel Brandon), 'Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny' (Grigori Rasputin), Dogma (Metatron) and, in 1999, 'Galaxy Quest'.

His portrayal of Alexander Dane/Dr Lazarus in 'Galaxy Quest' merits a picture because it's one of our Trish's favourites. It's also a very funny movie, particularly if you enjoy Sci Fi.

For my children he will for ever be Professor Serverus Snape from the 'Harry Potter' movies. Here's an interesting 'fact' for you - he's 11 years older than Timothy Spall, 12 years older than Adrian Rawlins and Gary Oldman, 17 years older than David Thewlis and 21 years older than Geraldine Somerville but the six characters they play are meant to be contemporaries.

In 2003 he joined the ensemble cast for Richard Curtis's 'Love Actually'. As I've said here before, I really don't enjoy watching this film because the characters I care about have such sad stories and the happier storylines are about the characters I don't connect with. Alan plays Harry, the husband of Emma Thompson's Karen. I ached for them.

Despite this highly successful film career he frequently turns down movie offers to work in the theatre. In 2001/2002 he was in the London's West End as Elyot in Noel Coward's 'Private Lives'. 2005 he directed 'My Name Is Rachel Corrie' at the Royal Court Theatre and won the Theatre Goers' Choice Award for best director.

What else can I tell you about him??? He's never married - but he's been with the same woman, Rima Horton, since his pre-acting days at the Chelsea College of Art. He says Canada is like a 'second home' but he lives in central London. He's a staunch Labour party supporter and counts Ruby Wax as a friend.

There are all kinds of wonderful quotes attributed to him on the web. My personal favourite is: 'What's interesting about the process of acting is how often you don't know what you're doing'. (Sound familiar all you authors out there???)

How about 'If people want to know who I am, it is all in the work'. Hmmm. Now that one, perhaps, is a little worrying ....?

Much Love


Currently on sale in the UK is Mothers-To-Be.

Julia James, who writes for Presents/Modern, has contributed 'The Greek and the Single Mum', Amy Andrews, who writes for Medicals, 'Their Baby Bond' and our Natasha 'Adopted: One Baby'.

It's available on the Mills & Boon site by clicking here.


  1. Oh yes, his voice is lovely.
    Hypnotic is a good way to describe him. Brooding is another one. You get the sense of things simmering underneath the surface calm.

    He played Tybalt in the BBC production of Romeo and Juliet back in the 1970s I believe.

    A worthy addition.

  2. Oh YES... Alan makes me verrrry happy-- especially in the music video for the Texas song In Demand. Must just go and relive that joy on youtube before settling down to some work....

  3. His role as Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility is one of my faves. He was so in love with Marianne Dashwood! When she falls ill, he's simply beside himself!

  4. He is great in Sense and Sensibility...I didn't remember he was in Love Actually...I try to forget I saw that movie. I love his voice. And his part in Harry P.

  5. I absolutely adore Alan Rickman, he is one of my favourite actors. He has the sexiest voice ever and is very attractive. I would love to meet him one day. I give my best wishes to Alan and his partner Rima.